Where Does Google Store All Those Servers?


In the new issue of mental_floss magazine, Ethan Trex answers The Biggest Questions of 2009. All this week, he'll be answering additional questions of various sizes here on the blog.

Does Google have a vast city of servers out there somewhere?

Not quite. Google does need a mind-boggling number of servers to answer all those search queries, but they're not all socked away in a single location. Instead, they're spread out in data centers around the world, some of which are quite large. Google is notoriously tight-lipped with information about these data centers, so it's hard to say exactly how many of them are scattered around the globe. There might be 35 or so, and there might be many more. Google is similarly cagey with details about exactly how many servers it has, but estimates place the number at several hundred thousand servers at the very least.

In 2005, the search giant started construction on a server center in The Dalles, Oregon. The project called for a complex of three buildings, each as large as a football field, that would be crammed with servers held together with tape and Velcro. The Dalles' location on the Columbia River and proximity to cheap electricity is a serious financial consideration for Google. A server center that large generates a lot of heat requires an energy-sucking cooling system. A 2008 story about the center in Harper's reported that the servers require a half-watt of cooling for every watt they use computing, which necessitates large cooling towers and makes the center a huge energy drain. The same Harper's story pointed out that when the plant is totally completed, it will pull in 103 megawatts of electricity, roughly enough to power 82,000 homes—the equivalent of a city the size of Tacoma.

That facility is large, but it's not the only project Google's been working on. In 2007 the company chose Lenoir, North Carolina, as the site for a new $600 million data center. Not surprisingly, part of the reason Google chose the fairly obscure city was its bargain-priced electricity and reliable power grid. Last year, Google spent a similar amount on a new server facility in Goose Creek, South Carolina. Other sites, like one in Council Bluffs, Iowa, should be operational later this year, while the economy has reportedly delayed construction on a $600 million data center in Pryor, Oklahoma.

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Wednesday’s Best Amazon Deals Include Computer Monitors, Plant-Based Protein Powder, and Blu-ray Sets

As a recurring feature, our team combs the web and shares some amazing Amazon deals we’ve turned up. Here’s what caught our eye today, December 2. Mental Floss has affiliate relationships with certain retailers, including Amazon, and may receive a small percentage of any sale. But we only get commission on items you buy and don’t return, so we’re only happy if you’re happy. Good luck deal hunting!

Connect Your Nintendo Switch Audio to Wireless Headphones With This Bluetooth Adapter


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One of the top gifts this holiday season is the Nintendo Switch ($300), and playing it with others is one of the safest ways to connect this year. You can make game time even more social with this Bluetooth adapter that can connect your Switch, smartphone, and wireless headphones simultaneously. That means you can listen to music, Switch audio, and even chat while you play. And through December 5, you can get it for just $36.54 with the code DEC15 at checkout.

The adapter works with a simple two-button design that houses the latest Bluetooth 5.0 technology and an advanced DSP algorithm to combine audio from your Switch and smartphone to stream wirelessly to your headphones or speakers.

The product earned itself a 4.7-star rating on Amazon, with reviewers saying, “The HomeSpot Bluetooth Adapter Pro is a must-have accessory for the Nintendo Switch” and, “I just ordered air pods for traveling and now I can listen to my Switch and/or whatever music or podcast I want all at the same time!”

The HomeSpot Bluetooth Audio Adapter Pro has five intuitive indicators that show operation at a glance. All of that functionality is housed in a pretty low-profile design that fits seamlessly with the Nintendo Switch and Nintendo Lite. The set comes with one adapter, one USB-C to USB-A converter, and a pouch for storage.

For a limited time, the HomeSpot Bluetooth Audio Adapter Pro is 14 percent off at a final price of $43. It's the perfect gift to keep your pals connected after a year of Zoom fatigue.

Prices subject to change.

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